The Power of Listening

December 10th, 2018

Don’t you smile when the loudmouth cannot control him or herself wading in with an uninformed opinion because they simply have to be heard. Whether it is in business, politics, or other aspects of life, we underestimate the power of “active” listening, at our peril.

Anonymity

December 6th, 2018

I am always reminded of the Oxford English Dictionary definition of anonymity when I receive requests from anonymous sources, those insistent on quoting anonymous sources or those who refuse to identify themselves on social media: “the lack of outstanding, individual, or unusual features; impersonality.”

Gambling Sense

December 6th, 2018

Here in the UK with arguably one of the most liberal attitudes to gambling and sports betting, a collection of the leading gambling companies ban betting adverts in live sports broadcasts. Ostensibly, to assuage government and public opinion about the unfettered promotion of football betting to young kids and the vulnerable. Here is the rub: it is too late and it ignores, the most important issue, individual accountability. Just as signs on bridges warning people about the dangers of suicide, do little to stop suicides. If you don’t focus on really meaningful actions, educating people, and holding them individually to account for their actions, you merely dance around the problem.    

Sexism or Sensationalism

December 4th, 2018


French DJ and Ballon d’Or host Martin Solveig makes a mistimed joke to the inaugural women’s winner, Norway’s Ada Hegerberg about her ability to twerk, and the thought police descend into hoots of derision. A remark that Hegerberg herself didn’t see as sexist but lo and behold Solveig is piled on by assorted media characters and indeed, British tennis player, Andy Murray. When we sensationalise every iota of modern life that doesn’t conform to our belief system, we merely end up drowning out horrible acts of sexism, racism, and ageism that are truly worthy of our disdain.  

Brexit Brouhaha

November 30th, 2018

You have to laugh when political commentators get so wrapped up in their political bubble, they are prone to making ridiculous statements. The BBC’s political reporter, Laura Kuenssberg, described Brexit, “As the most important decision we have had to make since 1945”. Excuse me, what about the decisions to go to war in the Falklands, Afghanistan twice, Iraq and multiple other situations. Aren’t life and death decisions rather more grave?   

Blind Customer Service

November 30th, 2018

I called my opticians asking to order some more contact lenses. The receptionist responds, “sorry sir, we don’t seem to have your records.” After giving a few more details, she responds “let me go and speak to one of my colleagues.” She returns saying, “I found your details, I am sorry they are out of date on our system. Bear with me, do you think you could come in for a new eye test, such that we can update our records?” (I’d only done that 6 weeks ago). Then the conversation moves onto suitable appointment times, three of my suggestions are met with “I am sorry we have no availability”. She asks to put me on hold (we’ve been speaking for 11 minutes). We finally get a convenient date agreed. 

Opticians as with dentists and vets businesses are feted for their clients loyalty, the predictability of recurring business and their earnings. When customer service is so derisory, how long before those “strengths” evaporate and then is no “magic” left?  

Morose Events

November 30th, 2018

I speak at 10 events a year, attend a further 35 events a year and probably get invited to 250 globally. I find there to be a direct correlation between the number of “paid for speaking slots” and boredom. Yet a great many event hosts cannot see it or marvel at “I love what she had to say….”, expecting me to be a cheerleader for their false excitement.  Let me share a blunt truth: people predominantly pay to speak, as a shortcut to getting their ideas out there without any validity or authority.  

Speak Up

November 30th, 2018

I am at a private event earlier in the week with Matthew Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, Adrian Gore, the visionary South African founder of Discovery (Vitality Health) and executives from Apple, when the subject turns to preventative healthcare. 50% of long-term illnesses (cancer, heart disease, kidney failure) in the western world are directly linked to our DNA. Our aptitude to learn and apply the wisdom we gain from genomics is fundamental to our welfare. Yet I am struck how few politicians will share the home truths about individuals taking responsibility for managing their own personal health risks. Watching the nightly news we excessively focus on funding and resources for our healthcare systems in the UK, US and elsewhere. Why so silent about preventative healthcare?    

Insular Incumbents

November 26th, 2018

Hidden Consequences 

Businesses don’t become insular, their leaders do. When leaders are so focused managing “in” their business that they overlook or are increasingly disinterested in the changes taking place around them (clients, markets, products, technology), they’ve made a deadly choice. Defending what they have is a bigger priority than embracing new ideas and new ways to evolve.  No surprise then that the “inwards thinking” permeates down to middle managers, who see little or no incentive in promoting experimentation on the front line. Faced with more effective alternatives, clients walk, and the brightest employees walk. By the time, the “alarm bell” is sounded, all too often it is too late, particularly in small businesses.     

Referral Learning

November 23rd, 2018

Before you instantly try to tear apart a business colleague’s, a client’s or a friend’s suggestion to meet with someone or explore a potential business opportunity, sit back and listen for a minute or two. There is three learning points: (A) the size, immediacy and relevance of the specific opportunity for you, (B) the individual’s current understanding of a high potential referral for you (clarity and accuracy) and (C) their current capability to be an immediately useful and relevant source of help, in ways you never imagined (who they are hanging out with, what they are immersed in and so on).